“The New Ballard” premiered in 1875. It featured an improved action, and, although rimfire and rimfire-center-fire chamberings remained, center-fire cartridges were the focus. In addition, the rifles boasted “Ballard Rifling”: deeply cut lands and grooves for increased accuracy. The revitalized Ballard soared in popularity among hunters and competitive shooters.
Models included Gallery, Mid-Range, and Union Hill rifles with Winchester-style finger levers, and the Pacific Rifle, with its single finger-loop lever. Options included nickel plating, engraving, wiping rods, set triggers and sights. More than 20 different rifle styles were produced until 1891, when the last Ballard was shipped.
This No. 1½ Hunter’s Rifle sports a 30-inch round barrel and is chambered in .45-70 Gov’t (a 32-inch barrel and .40-65 and .40-63 Ballard calibers were also offered for this model). The original “Rocky Mountain” rear sight has been replaced with an early peep. No. 1½ Hunter’s Models were not factory-equipped with tang sights. The receiver exhibits non-factory period engraving and is devoid of finish, although edges and stampings are sharp.
Ballard serial number records are incomplete, but the “J. M. Marlin” stamping indicates manufacture between 1875 and 1881; after that, receivers were stamped “Marlin Fire Arms Co.” A chip in the stock heel has been repaired, and the rebrowned barrel exhibits sharp rifling. Overall condition, plus a desirable caliber, makes this 60 percent rifle, which originally sold for $22.50, easily worth $2,500.